5 Nov 2016

Young offenders kept in cells, motels

4:34 pm on 5 November 2016

Child, Youth and Family in Dunedin is using motels or prison cells to house some young people facing charges because there aren't enough beds available for them, a lawyer says.

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Photo: 123rf

Figures released under the Official Information Act show youths who have been remanded into CYF custody in Otago have spent a night in jail at least 15 times in the past five years.

Dunedin barrister and youth advocate Brian Kilkelly said the Youth Court condemned that practice - but the shortage of beds was so dire some youths were being sent to motels for the night instead.

"Sometimes we have young people who are charged with a serious offence and have to be placed into custody but often those residences are full up.

"There have been occasions in Dunedin where they've put them in a motel with a security guard for the night."

Child Youth and Family said it had occasionally placed young offenders in motels, but it was always a last resort.

Southern region director Theresa Perham said when there were not places available in a facility, some youth offenders could be held in police cells while they wait to appear in court.

Ms Perham said in some cases the youths had been placed in motel rooms and a security guard had been hired to watch them.

She said the use of motels was a last resort and she did not believe it had happened this year.

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